Sunday, September 08, 2019

Speckled trout in trouble, and "changes must be made"

Trout SPR has been below the conservation level for 8 years
On Thursday, at the monthly meeting of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, commission members and approximately 45 attendees heard a presentation by LDWF marine biologist Jason Adriance on the 2019 Speckled Trout Assessment.  In a nutshell, spawning stock biomass and spawning recruitment are below conservation standards - and have been since 2011.

The problem is happening across all estuaries. There are two main culprits:
- winter kills of speckled trout are more frequent and more damaging, despite milder winters. The cause may be due to coastal erosion and loss of deepwater canals and other winter freeze-kill havens for trout.
- Overfishing. There are more anglers, with more effort, and being more successful per trip (prior to the decline).

Making matters worse... Louisiana's target management for trout Spawning Potential Recruitment (SPR) is the lowest of any Gulf state, anywhere from 8 to 15 percent lower.  So there was very little margin for overfishing to begin with.

Adriance said LDWF will come up with management options and present those to the Commission, as well as get public input. The options include:
- creel limit reductions
- minimal length increases
- slot limits
- closed areas
- closes seasons
- special regulations after serious winter kills

According to an article in Louisiana Sportsman website, CCA Louisiana Executive Director David Cresson stated afterwards that they need time to fully understand the science regarding the variables at play. "We need to see more information before rushing into any judgements."

The Fly Fishers International (FFI) Gulf Coast Council was represented at the meeting by Glen 'Catch' Cormier, GCC Conservation Director. He posted the particulars of the meeting, including the various graphs and charts. Those can be found at

The FFI-GCC understands the science, and is anxious to hear the recommendations of the biologists. It was very clear from the presentation, that Louisiana has had, for several years, a serious problem that needs changes.